Friday, July 17, 2009

Ways of applying Current (目前)

People say that Chinese is hard to learn, and as a native-English speaker, I agree.

One of the difficulties I find is that the sentence construction can be non-intuitive. Sure, it's still Subject-Verb-Object, but it's what happens in between that's difficult.

For example, take a look at this link from, where it uses mù qián (目前) (which means 'currently') in two different styles:

Tā shì mùqián zuì shòuhuānyíng de nǚ míngxīng.
She's currently the most popular star.

Nǐ mǎnyì mùqián de gōngzuò ma?
Are you currently satisfied with your job?

The English translations looks the same, but ...

In the first case, it's an adverb of time - in terms of when this action is taking place. Structurally: [subject] [verb] [time adverb] [object].

In the second case, the English translation also seems to be referring to time in the same way. However, in Mandarin it's used as an adjective - referring to the current state of the job, rather than the current time of being satisfied. Structurally: [subject] [verb] [time adjective] [object].

This post isn't going to completely change the way you learn Chinese, but hopefully it triggers a little more scrutiny in your processing of Chinese sentences as you continue to learn.

PS. Make sure that you get updates to Mandarin Segments as they are released, by subscribing to a feed, or via email.

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